Labour Minister shrugs off responsibility for Bill1

September 30, 2014

NDP Labour critic Frank Corbett is asking why the Liberal government has excluded the Department of Labour from one of the heaviest handed labour bills in Nova Scotia history.

Today in Question Period Minister of Labour Kelly Regan was asked why she didn’t keep a May 1, 2014 commitment she made in the house to, “respect the desires of the health care union members in which union they want to belong.” Regan said today she did make the statement, but technically her comments weren’t misleading because Liberal Bill 1 is a health bill, and not a labour bill falling under her portfolio.

Corbett says while he doubts the union mergers were added to Bill 1 so Regan could avoiding misleading the House, he does wonder why she hasn’t been included in the process.

“Here we have a bill, one of the largest labour bills in the history of the province, and the Minister of Labour has been excluded,” said Corbett. “It’s kind of like the New York Yankees hosting a reunion and not inviting Yogi Berra. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Corbett says it has become a pattern for Minister Regan to not take responsibility for matters falling under her portfolio.

On September 23, when asked on CBC’s Information Morning why as Minister of Labour and Advanced Education she cut the Graduate Retention Rebate, she responded that it wasn’t a line item in her budget and that it was a Finance decision. On August 26, when Regan was asked why people were being denied access to their pensions under the Financial Hardship program she responded that the file had been moved to the Department of Finance.

Corbett says given the complexity of Bill 1 and the number of bargaining units impacted, the Minister of Labour owes workers an explanation.

“What advice has the Labour Minister received on Bill 1? Has her staff advised her on whether the bill respects a workers right to freedom of association? Is it appropriate the Minister of Health can appoint a mediator to determine which health union workers will belong to? Does the bill breach any terms of the Labour Act? These are all questions the Minister of Labour should be answering, but apparently she’s not available for comment,” said Corbett.